A website can be a valuable hub for your audience to find out about your content and updates. It can also be a great tool for building a fan base - allowing you to visualize ways of getting visitors and using analytics to understand listeners as they experience your music.
Gaining the understanding and skills to become someone who can build a website can also take way longer than you have as an artist. Hopefully this guide, made after building numerous websites for our studio's artists, cuts out a lot of unnecessary time spent trying to figure it all out and let's you get to work right away. In Part I of this topic, we'll cover how to get the infrastructure of your website set up. In Part II, we'll cover how to style your website, brand yourself, and measure how well your content is resonating with your audience.
Unfortunately there's technical stuff you have to get done to have your site set up. I'll guide you through a few steps and explain only the amount of background info you need to know to make a good site for building fans.
By going to Google Domains, you can search for an available name for your website. Try to think of something short, and easy to remember. You want to be able to say your website at a show and people be able to remember it later.
Some potential suggestions could be
There are also domains besides .com that you could use such as .co, .fm, .io, .net, .org, etc.
Registering your domain should cost about $12-$30 per year.
One of our artists Diana Jang recently made a website. It turned out that dianajang.com and dianajangmusic.com were both already taken so she went for dianajang.co
During checkout make sure you click the 'make my domain private' checkbox.
Once you click add to cart and checkout, you'll be taken to the 'My Domains' section. Leave that there and open a new tab for getting hosting.
Your domain name reserves your right to use that name for your site. We'll now set up hosting so that your website has a place to live where your fans can visit. You're going to want a host with strong technical support because you'll probably end up needing technical help at some point. I use HostGator and I've used them for years. They're probably the most affordable and the technical support has been beyond my expectations.
The price tag says $3.95 but that's only if you pay for 3 years upfront. The real price is $10.95 per month. Pretty affordable compared to the other options.
When you hit 'Sign-Up', make sure you click 'I Already Own This Domain'.
Enter in the domain you registered with Google and fill out the rest of the form. Feel free to take a look at the additional services but they probably aren't necessary for you right now.
Remember there's a 30 day money-back guarantee. So if you end up setting this all up and decide it's not the right time for you, you can always get a refund.
Once you're signed up for hosting, you'll need to tell Hostgator about the domain you purchased from Google so that fans can reach your site.
To do this, log into your HostGator cPanel using the login info provided to you in the HostGator welcome email. Once you're logged into your cPanel, click on the dropdown arrow next to your username and select 'Change Style'.
There you'll see the 'X3 Hostgator Theme', click the orange 'Apply' button on that theme. This will send you back to your cPanel.
Now scroll down to the bottom of the cPanel page (which should now look different and slightly less cool). At the very bottom you should see a section that says 'Name Servers' with two address in a format that looks something like ns1234.hostgator.com.
Write these two name servers down. (Shown below under the 'Account Information' section.)
Remember that tab we left open? Return to that tab for Google Domains and you should be in the 'My Domains' section where we left off.
Third from the right, there should be a grey icon that reads DNS above it. Click on that.
Remember those Name Servers from HostGator? This is where they go. Type in or paste the first one into the Name Server field. Then click the plus button on the right hand side to make a second field. Type in or paste the second Name Server into this field. Double check to make sure they are correct and then hit 'Save'.
Now your website is linked and you should be able to type your domain name into any web browser and be taken to your website! (Which has nothing on it yet...)
Now that you have your website set up properly, it's time to install something called WordPress which will allow you to build your website. Tons of sites are built on WordPress including some huge artists like Andy Grammar , Beyonce, Jon Bellion, and Tori Kelly. WordPress is free and allows you to add things to your site from a massive collection of free and paid themes and plugins from other WordPress users around the world. The current version of Custom-Tracks.com is WordPress (not this blog section though)!
To install WordPress, go back to your HostGator cPanel and navigate to 'Software and Services' which is about the 10th section down from the top.
This will take you to the QuickInstall page where you can click to install WordPress.
Under the 'Install WordPress for free' option, click 'Install WordPress'.
Then select your domain from the dropdown and leave the "install/path/here" field blank.
Under admin email enter your email, for blog title put something like "Your Name Music". For admin user you can put something like your first name. Then enter your first and last name and hit Install WordPress.
When WordPress finishes installing you'll be given a username and password. Copy these to a sticky note for the next section!
There are plenty of great themes both free and paid. To check these out, log into your WordPress dashboard by going to yourdomain.com/wp-admin and logging in using the credentials from when you installed WordPress.
This is your WordPress dashboard. This is what you'll use to update your content on your site in the future. On the left-hand side, hover over 'Appearance' and click 'Themes'.
You can search for various free themes here. Themes are just preset ways of laying out content. Some of them also come with cool plugins that allow you do to extra stuff like have a newsletter on your site or a 'contact us' box.
If you want to get going as quickly as possible, there are a couple of paid themes that are really professional. The theme that Custom-Tracks.com is built on and that we work with is called Divi (Affiliate link). Another cool theme I've used in the past is called Lush.
A great feature of paid themes is that they include technical support. Each theme has its quirks and, like learning an instrument or writing songs, you'll have to spend some time tinkering with it to get familiar.
Once you have a theme, you can upload it as a zip file through the Themes page on WordPress.
If you have any trouble with part of this, feel free to message us here and we'll help you get up and running.